... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Simplifying Situations

I've written before about what I call Situation Rolls in Liber Zero: rolls to find out if you can change a situation (open a stuck door, listen through the door to avoid surprise) or whether a situation changes in ways you don't like (wandering monster appears, spike slips, rope breaks, you get lost.) What I did was listed all the 1d6 rolls in the LBBs and regularized them by making the "bad stuff" happen on a high roll and the "good stuff" happen on a low roll. I noticed that most of the odds fell in three groups: 1 in 6, 2 in 6, and 4 in 6, with an occasionally variant where there's a clear modifier making a given roll easier or more difficult (add 1 to difficulty when listening through a door if you are human.)

Now, some people have complained that older editions are bad because for some rolls, higher is better, while for others, lower is better. Obviously, I don't agree, and I think it's better to make two different mechanics distinctive in some way if they cover distinct procedures, like taking an action (attack roll) versus having something bad happen (situation roll.) But there is a slight glitch sometimes when I describe some situation rolls. My usual way to work around the glitch is to rephrase the situation to change the focus, but there may be an easier way that has a side effect of reducing the three standard target numbers to only one or two.

Instead of "higher is better" (or "lower better",) make it "higher means change, lower means it stays the same".

If you roll high for an attack roll, things change (the opponent takes damage.) If you roll high when you fall in a 10' pit, things change (you take damage.) If the GM rolls high for wandering monsters, they appear. If the GM rolls high after you spike a door shut, the spike slips.

In fact, if I get serious about mechanics-neutral rules and focus on that table (and then pick die rolls for each mechanic that just happens to duplicate the look and feel of the original game,) then the result for a 1d6 roll that is labeled "High" is 5, which can become our universal target number. Roll less than a 5, everything stays the same, which may be what a player is hoping for; roll 5 or more, things change, which may be good or bad, depending on who you ask.

We can even define "Leather + Shield" as the default and it turns out that a High roll with 1d20 on that same table is the roll needed by a 0-level man-at-arms to hit Leather + Shield. I'll have to see how far I can take that idea, though...

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